University of Alberta sports teams bracing for changes due to funding cuts

Click to play video: 'University of Alberta athletics facing financial shortfall'
University of Alberta athletics facing financial shortfall
WATCH ABOVE: With the provincial budget cuts, the University of Alberta athletics department already had to make make some changes. Add in the impact of COVID-19 and athletics director Ian Reade felt compelled to let athletes, coaches and alumni know about the financial trouble the department is facing. Quinn Phillips reports. – Apr 20, 2020

The University of Alberta won’t be cutting any sports programs this fall, but their operations will have to change.

Athletic director Ian Reade said that provincial funding cuts “have been extremely problematic for the Golden Bears and Pandas athletic programs.”

“We made what we thought were pretty significant cuts in December when we had to cut $75,000 out of our program,” he said.

Another $300,000 cut hit the department in February.

“Then we got hit with the COVID[-19] problem, which was really just piling on,” Reade explained. “We already knew we were in financial distress, but it became a lot more problematic when COVID hit. COVID wiped out most of our external fundraising capabilities.

“But it really all started with the provincial government funding cuts to post-secondary.”

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All told, the Bears and Pandas will lose around $2.5 million in funding and revenue.

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READ MORE: University of Lethbridge discontinues Pronghorns hockey programs due to budget

On Monday morning, the University of Lethbridge axed its hockey teams because of funding cuts. Reade doesn’t expect the U of A will lose teams, but the university will have to adjust.

“I don’t foresee us cutting programs, but we will have to run them in a different way,” said Reade.

“We will end [up] having to run them with some either volunteer coaches or externally-funded coaches, or more money coming from development programs or donors.”

Last week, Reade sent out a letter outlining the university’s challenges.

“It was intended to go out to 4,500 people on a list that includes fans and friends, alumni [and] donors. It went out to people all over the world,” said Reade. “It was strictly intended to be a communication around the financial situation that we’re in.
“[There] were a lot of people wondering. We felt like it would be good to give them some very factual information.”

Canada West is working on revised schedules for 2020-21. There will likely be fewer games and more travel by bus, since it’s cheaper and more flexible than air travel. On top of that, schedule-makers have to worry about delays or cancellations as a result of the pandemic.

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“We’ll run everything for this fiscal year, then wait and see what happens in the future,” said Reade.

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